Friday, June 26, 2009

I'm all mixed up!

Happy? Sad? Anxious? Excited? Check, check, check, and check. All of the above. This is my last day as a museum technician. That's kind of sad, but also good. I can move on, build a career now. However, it's sure been fun over the last year plus to play with Yellowstone's history. Not that it's been rainbows and unicorns the whole time, but I feel like I've crossed the Rubicon here, only to leave.

I'm cleaning up my desk and it's not as emotional as I thought it would be.

Mostly, I'm just ready to get the heck out of here and get on the road for vacation!!!! The Murphy clan is convening at the ranch for a week of sunshine, work, and play. The Matts are bringing over some horses for us to ride, Dad and Aaron are bringing motorcycles, and all the "kids" will be there except for Kelli & Kathy. Of the "grandkids" it will only be Aaron, Anna, and myself. But it should be fun, fun, fun! I can't wait!

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Wearing the Green & Grey...

I took a break...I needed a break!

I just love paraphrasing Dirty Dancing. It makes me happy inside. Sorry if it gets old, but really, it's just part of my charm.

So...I needed a break because I didn't want to blog about my job hunt. And since that's pretty much all I've thought (obsessed) about for the last month and a half, I had to stop blogging.

However. The big news is....(drum roll, please)...

I GOT A JOB! Yahoo! I won't even have a break in service with the NPS because on July 6th, I become Yellowstone's newest Editorial Assistant! Yahoo! I can't believe it's happened. What a relief. I get to stay here. I get to start a new and challenging career. I will be working with the Comprehensive Planning office, editing plans for future changes to major developed areas in the park.'s a term position! Yipee! Health insurance and benefits, here I come! This is really a dream come true. I don't want to jinx myself, but this is just another step in the traditional path to permanency--intern, temp (STEP) for one year, and now term. Maybe, just maybe...I could actually have a career with the National Park Service.

Of course, I'm sad to leave the museum. I love working with the tangible evidence of Yellowstone's history. I love the friendships I've made here. Even though those friendships will continue since I'll still be in the park, they'll change. And change is really, really bad. At least, that's what my heart tells my more sensible brain. funding here ends in August, so this job is the best solution to my "how the heck am I going to stay here" dilemma. Now, I just have to figure out how to be a professional editor. Thank goodness for Amazon and their lovely selection of reference books.

Here is a run down of how I managed to land a job in these precarious economic times:

I began my job hunt in January, 2009 when I learned that my funding was ending at my current position. I was offered my job on Friday, June 12th at 3:30pm.

I sent out a total of 28 applications with customized resume and cover letter for each job.

I signed up for job list updates at and Higher

I stalked professional museum, heritage, newspapers, and state job lists daily, looking for jobs that met my salary and benefit requirements.

I also stalked,, and

I bit the bullet and travelled (on my own dime) 1800 miles round trip for a job interview in Brookings, SD for the SD Humanities Council. Even though I loved the job and its mission, I ultimately turned down their job offer because their salary (and benefits, or lack thereof) didn't quite meet my short- and long-term goals of a financially secure future.

I talked to friends, family, professors, and Facebook about my desire for a job.

I decided to focus my job search on a geographic area because I want to live in Montana or South Dakota. I also included UT and CO because they're close. And Texas because it would be nice to be closer to my parents. I then broadened my search out of the museum field to include project and program management. I identified that I would like to make a difference with my job, so I actively sought out jobs with the government and the Girl Scouts (weird combo, I know, but it works in my mind.)

When my friend told me about the editorial assistant job in Yellowstone, it was merely a rumor. So, even before the job was announced, I stopped in at the chief's office to introduce myself. She ended up talking to me informally for quite some time and was excited by my qualifications for the job and by the fact that I took the initiative to meet her. I kept up a casual correspondence with her throughout the hiring process and let her know that I really, really wanted this job. I took extra care with my federal application and let it sit overnight before I submitted it. I qualify for a GS-9 based on my education and experience, but said I would accept a GS-6 just to get my foot in the door as a term and to increase my chances of not getting blocked by a vet. As it turns out, I will start at a 6 and then get automatically increased to a 7 within six months.

I took examples of my writing and other projects to the interview and explained their significance. During the interview, I focused on my strong commitment to communication and education, which I feel apply to any project management or editing position. I also highlighted my experience with teams, which is important in a small office like this. I did a little name-dropping, but really focused on my own assets rather than that of my quasi-famous family members.

And above all, I searched my soul and came to grips with the idea of leaving my home and all my friends and a lot of my family if I needed to. Luckily, I haven't had to make that difficult decision, but I did a lot of mental prep work for that possibility. I prayed often, talked to my friends and family, and a shed a lot of tears. Ultimately, I'm glad I went through that experience. Hopefully, it will enable me to appreciate my new job more. I've never taken living in Montana for granted, but now I've proven to myself that I can make my commitment to my way of life last.

I have a job! Yay!!!!